Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
Sault Ste. Marie | Ontario | Canada
by Gary McWilliams (aka Festival Nomad)
Judi and I had been talking about visiting Sault Ste. Marie. Over the years we had struck up a “long distance” friendship with both Kathy Fisher, Curator of the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site and with Edie Suriano, Marketing and Promotions Co-ordinator for the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre. Finally the opportunity came to visit the Sault and we took it! Once we reached Sault Ste. Marie, our first stop was with Edie and the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.
Can Bushplane 1
“Welcome to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.”
The following is an excerpt from the Centre’s website ~ “The CBHC preserves and tells the story of Canada’s bushplane and forest fire protection heritage and how it has shaped life in northern and remote parts of Canada. The CBHC collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets a collection of bushplanes and related material and promotes public understanding of their significance by offering quality presentations, education programs and visitor experiences in a public museum facility. It also serves as a centre of research and information on bushplane and forest fire fighting heritage.”
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“Outside the Centre”
After we were greeted by Edie, she took us to where the “magic” was displayed! What an “amazing” sight! The building was filled was planes and aircraft and forest firefighting memorabilia!
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“Firefighting equipment display”
The first airplane display we encountered was the “de Havilland Beaver“. The plane on display was a DHC-2 Beaver. The following is the Centre’s description of this aircraft ~Beaver CF-OBS was the first production de Havilland Beaver manufactured by de Havilland Canada.   It was purchased by the Ontario Provincial Air Service  in 1948 and was the first of a total of 44 aircraft purchased by them over the years.  CF-OBS is the oldest production beaver in flying condition.
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“de Havilland Beaver display”
As we explored the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre and I was fascinated by how many types of aircraft that were used in the North, both for personal use and for commercial use, such as fighting fires.
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“Hanging displays”
One of the float planes that interested me was the de Havilland DHC-3 Otter. As we walked around the airplane, I realized how well stocked it would have been for Northern use, amphibious floats. canoe and all kinds of survival equipment. Here’s what the Centre’s website says about their de Havilland Otter ~ “CF-ODU was purchased by the Ontario Provincial Air Service  in 1960. It was damaged in a forced-landing near Moosonee in 1984. It took ten years for Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre volunteers to rebuild CF-ODU.
Can Bushplane 8
“de Havilland DHC-3 Otter”
Flying high above us (okay, it was attached to the ceiling) was a small interesting plane. It reminded me of one of the planes (Cessna 172) that my brother (Chuck), and his friend Dennis Bradley (one of the founders of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum) owned. The plane on the “ceiling” is a Aeronca Chief C-6 CNGV.
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“Aeronca Chief C6- CNGV”
The planes were, obviously very interesting, but the Heritage Centre offered so much more! As mention in the beginning of this article its “Firefighting Display“. It play a large part of the Canadian bushplane’s history. Without the firefighting planes and the brave men who manned them, who know many disasters would not have been prevented or at least minimized.
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“Railway speeders – firefighting equipment”
Walking through the Centre, you could look inside different airplanes…
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“A look inside”
You could see the instrument panel and image sitting there and “flying high“!
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“Could you fly this?”
Or, you could inspect an airplane engine and find out how it works!
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“Could you fix this engine?”
One of the best areas, especially if you are a kid, is Children’s Centre. Here is part of how the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre’s website describes the childrens’ centre ~ “So you want to be a pilot?    Learn how with flight simulators, arcade-style gaming consoles and interactive displays.  Experience a real airplane cockpit for flights of imagination — what could be better?” For more informaton visit
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“High Flyer!”
Judi and I had a wonderful time visiting our friends in Sault Ste. Marie. There are so many great and fun things to do and discover. If you decide to visit there, make sure you visit all the amazing museums and art galleries.
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